While displaced persons return to Morobo, more support required for them to fully reintegrate

unmiss south sudan returnees voluntary returns peace conflict uganda refugee IDP united nations unpeacekeeping

As the peace process in South Sudan begins to ramp up, those who fled the civil wars of the past decade are slowly returning to their original settlements. However, rebuilding lives irrevocably altered by violence isn't easy, as a visiting UNMISS patrol to Morobo, Central Equatoria, discovered. Photo by James Sokiri/UNMISS

13 Mar 2023

While displaced persons return to Morobo, more support required for them to fully reintegrate

James Sokiri

CENTRAL EQUATORIA – As South Sudan begins to emerge from the devastation of repeated civil wars, an increase in voluntary returns has been witnessed in Morobo.

According to Timothy Arike Enos from the Relief and Reintegration Commission Office, more than 45,700 individuals have returned to this Central Equatorian county since January 2021.

However, much remains to be done to ensure that the new arrivals are fully reintegrated into society.

Peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) recently visited the county to assess the security situation on the ground as well as take stock of major challenges being faced by those who have recently returned to their original settlements here.

Almost every returnee told tales of unbearable hardships, ranging from lack of food, water and shelter to fuel shortages, unhygienic health conditions, and limited opportunities for children to continue learning.

Victor Ligambo, a father of six children, decided to return from Bidi Bidi, a refugee camp in Uganda. Harsh living conditions and the impossibility of finding work made it impossible for him to eke out a living.

 “Morobo is my home and the years in Uganda, though we were physically safe, were hard,” he states. 

Another returnee, 70-year-old Margret Monday, has travelled back from another Ugandan refugee camp with her grandchildren.

 “Seeing my neighbours welcome me with open arms delighted my heart but my children are still trying to find jobs and I can’t really say we are fully settled in Morobo,” revealed Margret.   

Rebuilding lives torn apart by violence isn’t easy and support from all stakeholders is needed to ensure safety and security for new returnees, and vitally provide humanitarian assistance.

Morobo County Commissioner Mawa Joseph John is advocating for such support, be it agricultural tools and seeds or non-food items such as cooking utensils, jerrycans, and temporary shelters.

“It isn’t easy, but we are heartened to see more people have the confidence to reclaim their lives within our county. We are now at a critical moment in South Sudan’s history and every citizen has something to contribute towards a better, more peaceful future,” he stated, adding that he encourages every refugee or internally displaced person to trace their steps homewards.

The visiting patrol from the UN Peacekeeping mission was facilitated by the mission's Protection, Transition and Reintegration Section, included military observers as well as human rights officers.